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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Dear GI Bill Expert, I will separate this summer after 11 years Active Duty, but plan on transferring into the Reserves without a break in service. I have already elected to take the Post 9/11 GI Bill and would like to transfer the benefit to my dependents. I understand the transfer would obligate me for an additional 4 years of military service. I am confused as to whether transferring the benefit now would commit me to another 4 years and not allow me to separate this summer? Or can I wait until I separate and join the Reserves then elect to transfer the benefit to my dependents? I’ve heard that I must make my decision to give my dependents the benefit while on Active Duty and that the window will to transfer will close once I’m no longer AD. Ideally, I would like to transfer the benefit now and finish my obligation in the reserves. Any guidance would be much appreciated. Thank you.

A: Yes you should wait to transfer benefits your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits until you get into the Reserves because if you sent in a request now, it would not be approved; you don’t have the additional four years of enlistment in place when you make the transfer request. So wait until you enlist in the Reserves.

When you do enlist in the Reserves, make sure it is for more than four years, otherwise you won’t have a full four years left on your enlistment contract at the time you make you transfer request and your request would be disapproved.

What you heard about the transfer window closing once you leave active duty is true if you are not going into another branch of the Armed Forces, which you are. The way Congress wrote the rules you had to be a member of the Armed Forces of the United States (which includes the Reserves and National Guard) on or after August 1, 2009 (and meet the other eligibility requirements) to make a transfer request.

If you were not going into the Reserves you would not be eligible to make a transfer request, but because you are, you maintain your transfer ability as long as your four-year enlistment time or more is in place.

You won’t be able to do it the way you want though – use a combined active and Reserve time. Enlist in the Reserve first and then make your transfer request.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: So I transferred my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my son 21 and daughter 19, both of them receiving 18 months of benefits. My son used his benefits in 2009 thru 2011 and may have had a few days left after the end of the second year. My daughter started using her benefits in the fall 2011. Then my son decided to go back to school this Jan and we paid for his tuition for 12 hours, however, the daughter is also going to the same school taking 15 hours. She followed all the right procedures and filed her VA paperwork through the school rep.

My son just received a letter from the VA stating they paid part of his tuition and would be paying him for books and his prorated housing allowance from Jan 6 thru 27 based on his enrollment of 15 hours. So it looks like either the school or VA rep submitted a claim for my son based on my daughter’s actual enrollment. How can we get this fixed and get her actual benefit and tuition paid by VA and get my son’s benefit corrected?

A: This could get more confusing than amusing. I would say this is probably both a VA and school error. When your daughter enrolled in school, she submitted her Certificate of Eligibility (COE) that shows how many months of benefits she had left. The school had to send in a Certificate of Enrollment, along with a copy of her Certificate of Eligibility that tells the VA she is in fact enrolled in school as a Post 9/11 GI Bill student using transferred benefits. It sounds like the school submitted your daughter’s Certificate of Enrollment under your son’s name. And the VA apparently missed the difference in names between the two certificates, or it should have sent up a red flag when names didn’t match.

As far as how to get it fixed? First have your son and daughter both go and see the school’s VA Rep. Be sure your son brings along his VA letter and you daughter her COE. The school will have to straighten out the tuition mix-up with the VA because there is a difference of three credits.

The school VA Rep should call the VA and notify them of the mix-up right away. With your son right there at the time, he an answer any questions the VA Rep may have concerning his benefits (or lack thereof) and what he got paid. If they have already paid him his book stipend and housing allowance, then he will have to arrange to pay that back.

The next issue will be getting the school/VA to get your daughter’s tuition fees paid. They will either have credit his tuition to her school account or make an adjustment for the difference in credits, but that is between the school and the VA. Then, the VA will have to get her the housing allowance and book stipend that is due to her.

This is an unfortunate event for your daughter; expect it to be a long drawn out process as it normally takes the VA awhile to straighten out an error such as this. Good luck!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I started college at a school and the Post 9/11 GI Bill has paid that college for a semester, and decide I want to go to another school, can I transfer right away or wait until that semester is up and then transfer?

A: Technically you should be able to send in a VA Form 22-1995 – Change of Place or Training Program – and everything would be hunky-dory, but I advise against doing it mid-semester. You could be opening yourself up for a lot of headaches. Why?

When you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and fees directly to your school at the beginning of the semester. You get a book stipend also at the beginning of a semester, calculated at $41.67 per credit, and a housing allowance monthly based on the number of credits you are taking and the zip code of your school. That is three separate payments.

If you switch mid-semester, it can affect the calculation of your housing allowance and book stipend because both are driven off of the number of credits you take and the housing allowance also off the zip code of your school.

If your new school’s zip code rate is lower or you take less credits, my concern is you could get into an overpayment situation where you owe the VA money and you don’t want that. If you do, the VA would stop your payments until you either pay the overpayment or arrange for payment.

That’s not to even mention the mess it could cause by your school having to refund the VA for tuition for the remaining part of the semester and the VA paying your new school for what is left of the semester.

The bottom line is don’t do it; you may regret it if you do. I can see too many places where things could get really screwed up. Wait until you are almost at the end of the semester and then send in your 22-1995 to make a clean switch for the next semester.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have been serving active duty Army since Apr. 97 and I paid the $100 a month for 12 months for the MGIB. I am trying to give my daughter the GI Bill to go to school when she graduates from high school next year. I have not used my benefits at all since I joined. I am not sure what to do to give her my benefits and what are the benefits? Do I need to switch programs to give her my benefits? My retirement date is scheduled for 30 Apr 2017. I am indefinite at this time. Thank you for your help on this.

A: I have good news and bad news. The bad news is you cannot give your daughter your Montgomery GI Bill benefits as that GI Bill does not have a transfer-of-benefits-to-dependent-children option to it.

The good news is you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and that does have a transfer benefit where you can give your daughter and/or spouse some or all of your 36 months of benefits.

To get a transfer approved, you need to have served for at least six years and have at least four years left on your enlistment at the time of transfer – requirements you already meet.

So now all you have to do is go to the Transfer of Benefits (TEB) website and enter into your daughter’s account how many months you wish to transfer to her. Once you hit the submit button, you will see the Status Block change to “Pending Review” After 8 to 10 weeks, check the Status Block again and look for an “Approved” status.

Once the status changes, then have your daughter send in VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website. In return, she will get her Certificate of Eligibility that she will need when enrolling in college as a Post 9/11 GI Bill student using transferred benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have used my GI Bill benefits and Army College Fund. Another Veteran told me there was another benefit that would help pay for additional education. Is this true?

A: I’m assuming you are referring to the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD) when you say you used your GI Bill benefits. If so, then yes, you could be eligible for some benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, depending on when you served and for how long.

To qualify, you would have had to serve for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001. That would get you the minimum benefit of 40%; three years of service would get you to the 100% mark.

Under the New GI Bill, the VA would pay for your tuition and fees (up to your tier percentage) at a public school and you would get a housing allowance based on the location of your school, tier percentage, and the number of credits you take. You would also get a book stipend once each semester calculated at your tier percentage times $41.67 per credit (up to the yearly maximum).

If you attend a private school, they would pay up to $17,500 (times your tier percentage) in tuition and fees. As you can see, how long your served after September 10, 2001 can greatly affect your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

If you think you might have some Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, send in VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website and you will get back a Certificate of Eligibility that will show what you have for benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m National Guard and so is my father. I have been using my GI Bill since I have been in college but recently, since my dad came back from his 1st deployment. I was trying see if I can stop using my GI Bill and start using his Post 9/11 GI Bill since I am his dependent and under 26? Or could I get his and mine at the same time?

A: First, your father would have to meet the service requirement of having served for at least six years. He most likely meets that requirement, but there is also a future service requirement – agreeing to serve for another four years (unless he is within four years of qualifying for retirement, then the additional time would be prorated down to a lesser amount.) And then finally, he would have to be willing to make a transfer of his benefits to you.

With only one deployment under his belt, he would be at the Post 9/11 GI Bill 60% tier, meaning the VA would pay 60% of his tuition, monthly housing allowance and book stipend. If he transferred his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you, you would inherit that same percentage of pay.

Your dad could transfer benefits to you and you could use them, but not at the same time you are using your Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). You would have to use one set of benefits and once those ran out, switch over to the other GI Bill. Just know that you will be limited to a combined total of 48 months of benefits under the Rule of 48.

I understand why you would want to switch. The MGIB-SR pays a full-time student a measly $345 per month. Even at 60%, your monthly housing allowance alone would be over twice that amount!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: In 1988 I joined the Navy and at that time I opted not to receive the GI Bill. In 1992 when I left the active Navy and joined the USNR, I was told that I could not sign up for the GI Bill. Then in 1994 I joined the Army and was again told that I was not eligible to sign up for the GI Bill. Now, I have heard that I can sign up for the Post 9/11 GI Bill; is that true and if so, how and where do I do that? I am still on active duty and have served 23 years with 21 of them on active duty.

A: I understand why you were not eligible to sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) when you joined the Army, because that would have been the same GI Bill you declined when you joined the Navy six years earlier. The part I don’t understand is you being told you could not get the GI Bill that cover Selected Reservists, the GI Bill you would have been eligible for when you joined the USNR. National Guardsman and Reservists are covered under the Montgomery GI Bill–Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), an entirely different GI Bill.

But, that is water under the bridge now and really it doesn’t make any difference – if you would have had the MGIB-SR, it would have expired when you left the Navy Reserve anyway.

However you are eligible to receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill. All you needed to serve was a minimum of 90 days after September 10, 2001 on a Title 10 order, which you have completed multiple times. So being you never had a GI Bill before, you should have 36 months of education benefit that you can use.

To get your Post 9/11 GI Bill Certificate of Eligibility, submit VA Form 22-1990 from the eBenefits website. On your certificate, it will show how many months of eligibility you have. To use your New GI Bill, hand in a copy of your certificate to your school when you register for classes. Be sure to talk to your school’s VA Certifying Official so you can get everything set up correctly.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I entered the military 01 May 1969. I used my GI Bill at various periods completing my degree in August 1997. I served on active duty from August 2005 – April 2006 with Hurricane Katrina & Rita. I did active duty for two months in 2008 with Hurricane Gustav. I then was on active duty from 21 April 2009 – Sept. 2009. Then seventeen months from November 2009 – March 31 2011. All of this active duty was in the state of Louisiana with the Louisiana National Guard. My question is am I eligible for Post 9-11 GI Bill & if so what are my entitlements. I am retiring from the Louisiana National Guard on 30 June 2012 with thirty years served. Thanks.

A: The real issue here is the type of orders you were on during your “active duty” as not all active duty qualifies you for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. For example, if you were ordered to active duty on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation for a period of at least 90 days, such as Afghanistan, that would establish Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility at the 40% tier; a typical one-year deployment would inch you up to the 60% level. Two more one-year deployments would get you to 100%.

However, if you were ordered to state active duty, it was most likely on a Title 32 order which may or may not qualify you for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If the orders were “for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training”; or under section 502(f) “for the purpose of responding to a national emergency”, then you are eligible. The hurricane duty should have fallen under Section 502(f), but you will have to look at your orders to be sure.

So assuming all your state active duty time was “good” time, I come up with 32 months of eligible service, putting you at the 90% tier.

The bad news is under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, your limited to a total combined maximum of 48 months. Assuming you used up your 36 months of MGIB to get your Bachelor’s degree in 1997, the most you could get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be 12 months at the 90% tier meaning the VA would pay up to 90% of your tuition and you would get 90% of the authorized housing allowance and book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I enlisted in Nov 2002 and was given $50,000 College Fund incentive along with the GI Bill. I have been doing a bit of research and have found that it seems that even though when I signed up I was told the 50K was in addition to the GI Bill, that in reality it was not. Basically from what I can find, you take GI Bill value at enlistment and subtract that from my 50K. Which means I actually got around 14K. Is this about right? The reason I ask is because I am trying to calculate my approx. monthly payment for BAH plus the College Fund.

A: Many people were duped by what they were really getting when they opted for the College Fund program. As you did, most thought the amount they were quoted was above and beyond what they would get from the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). Also as you did, most found out afterward that their quoted amount includes payment from the MGIB.

Your amount of $14,000 seems low to me. I went into the VA’s website and found out the MGIB monthly payment in January 2002 for a full-time student was $800 per month. Multiply that by 36 months of benefits and your total MGIB amount should have been worth around $28,800 at the time you signed up for the GI Bill. If you subtract that amount from $50,000, you end up with $21,200, which based on my experience seems to me to be more in the ballpark.

So to estimate how much monthly you would receive in College Fund money, divide the $21,200 figure by 36 months. That comes out to $588 per month. Currently, the MGIB pays $1,473 per month, so with your College Fund amount, it should total around $2,061. Don’t forget that you will have to pay your own tuition, books and other education-related expenses.

However, you may want to look into the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You qualify for it and probably would pay you more. Under that GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and you get a monthly housing amount that averages $1,200 across the United States. Plus, at the beginning of each semester you get a book stipend of around $500 if you attend full-time, and you would still get your $588 in College Fund money. Check it out!

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am trying to figure out which GI Bill option works best for me and I would like to see dollar figures if possible. I am a National Guard soldier with 14yrs of service. I have been deployed twice under Title 10. First deployment was from Aug 2005 to Dec 2006; second deployment was from Sept 2010 to Nov 2011. I have heard that I’m eligible for 1606, 1607, and post 9/11. I just need the best bang for the buck! I have used a little of the MGIB in the past, but I’m unsure of how much I actually used? I am currently taking courses full time through virtual college.

A: At one time you probably did have all three GI Bills, but your Chapter 1606 that you had from being a National Guard member expired at the end of your 10th year anniversary. So that GI Bill is no longer a viable option, plus it only pays a full-time student $337 per month anyway and you have to pay your own tuition, books and other education-related expenses.

Chapter 1607 (REAP) was the forerunner to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so you earned it from your deployment in 2005/2006. With your 16 months of service, it would pay $883.30 per month for you to go to school full-time and you have to pay all of your expenses as listed above for Chapter 1606.

And yes you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With a total of 30 months of qualifying Post 9/11 GI Bill service, you would qualify at the 90% tier. Under that tier, the VA pays 90% of your tuition directly to your public school (or up to 90% of $17,500 per year in tuition if you attend a private school) and you get 90% of the authorized full-time student online housing allowance of $673.50 ($606.15) and 90% of the book stipend ($37.50 per credit) at the beginning of each semester (up to your $900 yearly cap). As you can see by the figures, monetarily the Post 9/11 GI Bill would be your best bet.

As far as how many months of benefits you have left, you would have to submit VA Form 22-1190 from the eBenefit website to get that information. In return, you’ll get a Certificate of Eligibility showing your remaining unused benefits.